The Vancouver Canucks can thank stout defense and Ryan Miller’s sturdy goaltending for their impressive start.
They hope both carry over to a five-game homestand beginning Friday night against the St. Louis Blues.
Vancouver (3-0-1) surrendered 38 shots in its lone setback, a 3-2 overtime loss Saturday to Calgary. The Canucks have only allowed 24.7 shots per game in their three victories, however, and outshot Los Angeles 26-15 in a 3-0 road win Tuesday. Former Blue Adam Cracknell is the only Vancouver player with multiple goals after scoring in his second straight game.
It marks the first time since 2007-08 the Canucks have won their first three road games. They also knocked off Anaheim and the won the opener against the Flames.
"We’re happy with the wins, but we’re not taking anything for granted," coach Willie Desjardins said.
Miller’s 15 saves against the Kings provided his 36th career shutout, but that shouldn’t undermine how impressive he’s been thus far with a .955 save percentage. His .911 mark in his inaugural campaign with Vancouver last season was his lowest in seven seasons.
The Canucks have also had no problem putting their bodies on the ice to help their goalie, averaging 17.5 blocked shots.
"It’s a small sample set," Miller said of his early success. "The idea is to keep building and growing. It’s not the top of the pyramid for me and certainly not this team. The idea is to continually improve."
St. Louis acquired Miller at the trade deadline in 2014 in an attempt to solidify its playoff roster, but he struggled in a first-round loss to Chicago. He recorded a .897 save percentage and allowed three or more goals five times in the six games as the Blues dropped four in a row after taking a 2-0 series lead.
St. Louis (3-1-0) has scored three power-play goals on eight opportunities through half of its six-game trip, winning 4-2 Thursday at Edmonton.
The Blues have been outscored 5-2 in the first period but hold an 11-4 edge over the final 40 minutes, and they pulled away late again against the Oilers, outscoring them 3-1 over the final 40 minutes.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored his team-leading third goal in the second period, and Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen put away the game with scores in the third.
"The game in the first period was up for grabs," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Edmonton was probably a bit more energized, but halfway through the second period we started to get on the grind and took it over. We did a good job at the end of the second period and a great job the whole third period."
David Backes is off to a slow start with one assist in four games after averaging 0.7 points per game last season, but the Blues have given themselves breathing room by holding opponents to a league-low 20.3 shots per game. They finished second last season (27.2).
Jake Allen figures to get the start in net for St. Louis on the second night of a back-to-back after Brian Elliott made 24 saves Thursday. Allen stopped 16 shots in Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Minnesota.
The Canucks still have plenty to clean up despite their strong start – their 16:00 penalty minutes per game are the league’s third-most, and they’ve scored only once on 16 power plays.
Their six-game series winning streak is their longest in team history against the Blues.